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This page is
based on Book Club posts originally found at Yahoo! Clubs
'Club'....currently I am the only person reading any of
the books, all the choices are mine and all the reviews
are by me - but do please join the group, choose a book
and we'll all/both get reading! (See 'Book Club Rules' below)
Armfield the Autobiography: Right Back to the
Beginning' by Jimmy Armfield with Andrew Collomosse.
Chosen by Bob 70-71.
Reason for choice: Well I'd read about Don
Revie, Brian Clough, it made sense to complete the story
with Jimmy Armfield's biography.
Review by Bob 70-71
grammar school origins permeate this whole book. He comes
across as an intelligent, well mannered diplomat, who
loves his football and his life. I keep saying it, but
why people waste their time reading biographies of the
current stars when they can enrich their lives by reading
life stories like Jimmy's I will never know.
Jimmy was a child during the war
years and the opening chapters capture a unique moment in
English history when children got on with their childhood
whilst the adults did their best to bomb the world into
oblivion. In the future if social historians need source
material of living an ordinary life in 1940s Britain they
need look no further than biographies such as Jimmy's.
Some of Jimmy's lifetime ability
to seamlessly marry the stereotypical male world around
him with more feminine-side pursuits began at school,
when as a boy in Lancashire he appeared on stage dancing
the Cracowiak for the Polish troops, and got away with
it. Rather sweetly, though unknowingly at the time, one
of the other dancers was his future wife. In later life
he replicated this by not only devoting his life in the
male attributed world of football he was also his local
Jimmy was a natural sportsman
and it was not long before his talents were spotted by
Blackpool, one of the top Division One (when it really
was Division One) sides of the era. Like all lads of his
age he still had to do his National Service, and his
early football career was defined by juggling his duty to
the army and turning out for Blackpool, working his way
up from the reserves to being a first team regular
playing alongside Stanley Matthews.
have been sat next to Duncan when the tragic plane
accident in Munich 1958'
The army team at this time was
rather handy including as it did future Manchester United
players Duncan Edwards and Eddie Colman. Jimmy's
description of the brilliance of Duncan's skills was one
of the most touching moments of the book. Duncan and he
would sit next to each other on trips to army matches.
Later Jimmy tells us Manchester United came in for him
and was turned down without discussion, in the days when
the clubs really did own the players, and no more was
said. Jimmy reflects that had Blackpool sold him, the
chances are he would have been sat next to Duncan when
the tragic plane accident in Munich 1958 killed him and
Next follows his rise to being a
Blackpool regular then captain, and ultimately being
England regular and captain - taking over from Johnny
Haynes after the 1962 World Cup finals. In these Finals
Jimmy was an established player and Bobby Moore was an
emerging star. Over the next four years of course,
England was evolving into the most famous team in its
history. Gordon Banks also debuted around the time of the
'62 World Cup, Ray Wilson, Bobby Charlton were also
established. Roger Hunt was alternating with Jimmy
cold-hearted, Jimmy's loss was Sir Alf's gain'
The rest did not debut until
1964, and in what must have been a personal tragedy for
Jimmy one of the team's casualties by this time was Jimmy
himself. In the last game of the 1963-64 season playing
for Blackpool against Ipswich Town in front of Sir Alf
Ramsey, Jimmy got a groin injury which kept him out of
the England's 1964 Summer preparations and allowed Bobby
Moore to take over as captain.
Being cold-hearted, Jimmy's loss
was Sir Alf's gain. By the time Jimmy was fit again
George Cohen had taken his place on the field and Bobby
had taken his captaincy, but Jimmy was the perfect
standby, whom Sir Alf could rely on to fill the shoes if
Bobby or George had either been injured in the 1966
Tournament itself. Jimmy played just two more
internationals, both in 1966, both as captain, and both
in which he played well enough to be selected, but in
retrospect it seems that Jimmy's experience was the
reason for his recall in Sir Alf's mind.
There then follows the most
intriguing part of the book in which Jimmy plays the
perfect role as the unofficial leader of the 1966 World
Cup squad Second XI. It is fascinating to read the tale
from the perspective of a player once removed from the
first team action, and it seems he took the role on with
the dedication and diligence he gives to everything in
his life. After a training match v Arsenal in which the
second team won 3-1 the players hoisted him onto the
shoulders to leave the pitch.
was chosen .... after the nuclear bomb of Brian Clough's
Jimmy's football career ended in
1970-71 season. Jimmy had already been player-manager of
the FA tour to Tahiti, New Zealand and the Far East in
1969, so it was natural he should go into club
management, and Bolton Wanderers is where he headed. He
won the Third Division Championship in 1973, and became
the surprise new manager of Leeds United in October 1974.
It seems Jimmy was chosen for his level-headed diplomacy,
to steady the ship after the nuclear bomb of Brian
Clough's 44 days.
As a Leeds fan, who had bought
the book in the Leeds United supporter's shop, this was
obviously the reason I'd come along for the ride, and I
was not disappointed. Jimmy by all accounts did the job
he was hired for. Rather than callously sweeping away the
old guard he took a softly softly approach and the Revie
players eventually found new clubs, some with
considerable transfer fees considering the late stages of
Though the old boys reached the
1975 European Cup final losing to a Bayern Munich team
that outplayed Leeds United at their own game of
snatching a barely deserved goal then soaking up the
pressure - even managing to score a second on the break
of an ever more desperate Leeds side in its death throes.
As the old team was unpicked and the new side took shape,
its lack of instant success, and the general lack of
flair in Jimmy's management style meant the board lost
patience. By his own account, the team that Jimmy built
was never given a fair chance; he was sacked and he left
the football frontline for good. But even now we're only
two thirds the way through the book.
Radio Five Live, the means by which
whole generations of football fans know Jimmy
to the exclusion of his playing career!'
For anyone interested in
football commentating, this book is a dream. Jimmy
follows his journalistic roots from reporting minor
league matches in the Blackpool Gazette, through
being a serious sports journalist for the Daily
Express, and finally on to his legendary commentary
on BBC Radio Five Live, the means by which whole
generations of football fans know Jimmy to the exclusion
of his playing career!
What a book! The later chapters
include his head hunting role when he helped the FA to
pick Terry Venables and Glenn Hoddle as England managers,
and his emerging status as a statesman of the game. I
would love to hear repeats of his radio series in which
he interviews of some of his football heroes. This sounds
like an archive for which the BBC should be very proud
they chose the right man for the job. Again, his
diligence comes through and you know he wants to do it to
celebrate the heroes he was interviewing rather than the
sound of his own voice.
As I read the concluding
chapters Jimmy announced he is undergoing treatment for
cancer, so as you can imagine I was stony throated by the
final page. I hope his treatment succeeds; we need
legends like Jimmy around who not only inform us about
former times but still embrace the glories of the new.
I'm proud to say that this site once voted Jimmy the best
commentator in the media! An accolade he truly deserves;
but this book shows he has had four separate football
careers - player, manager, headhunter and reporter - and
he excelled in them all!
Utd' by David Peace.
Bob70-71. Reason for choice: I work in and
around Ossett and that is the home town of the author.
I've been wanting to read one of his books for a while,
then he goes and writes one about Leeds United just as
I'm about to have a birthday.
OK I admit I forgot to
review this book at the time, but I'll give it a shot now
9 months later. I must just say from the outset it is one
of the very best football books I have ever ever read.
This novelisation of
real events is a bit like one of those mock-umentaries
that TV does so well covering events like 9/11 or the
life of Diana. It purports to be highly historically
accurate, but it is nevertheless a novel. The story
interweaves Cloughies success at Derby County with his
failure to win over the board with his defer-to-nobody
style at Leeds United.
Reading it you truly
believe you are in Brian Clough's god-like mind. You are
completely with him and his agonies and frustrations. His
chronic self-doubts and his loneliness in adversity. Hey,
I'm a Leeds fan, devoted to the Revie players, and I was
desperate for them to give him a break! Come on lads he's
there to make Leeds great again, don't you want the same
It really makes you
re-examine your own thoughts about the era, and raises
more questions than it gives answers. Did Clough get it
right? Should he not have been allowed to follow through
what he started? Why did the board seem to want him to
blast the old players away then back down with such a
U-turn? Would Leeds United have become the European
Champions like Nottingham Forest did under Clough in
later years if he had stayed? Did Cloughie outgrow his
rather big boots at Derby County and make a massive
mistake in leaving Derby County in the first place, and
compound this by accepting the Leeds post??? Damned if I
leads out a vicious-looking Billy Bremner'
If you have any
interest in football then you have to read this novel. It
condenses about 20 to 30 books to tell its tale also,
making football history all the more palatable in the
My only concern is that
the story does rather rely on you knowing who all the
leading players are. That is, does it work as a straight
novel? If you are not au fait with knowing who
the hell Duncan Mackenzie is, for instance, I'm not sure
this book is the one for you. And he is one of the least
obscure names you'll need to know, as regular visitors to
this site would help me to affirm.
But aside from all
this, I would have bought it for the cover design alone.
Clough leads out a vicious-looking Billy Bremner and the
Leeds United team on to the Wembley Turf for the 1974
Charity Shield match. Their eyes with eyes paint sprayed
out to hide the emotions. Classic cover design, classic
David if you are
reading this, how about a book called '1970/71' next ?
It's the only way you can top this one!
Portrait of a Footballing Enigma' by Andrew Mourant.
Chosen by Bob 70-71.
Reason for choice: The reasons are a few-fold.
1) I recently spoke to some distant long-lost reletives
of his via the website; 2) I'm hoping it may help solve
the dilemma that Leeds fans love him and the rest of the
World doesn't - who's right?; 3) Leeds are about to
choose a new manager, and every manager at Leeds always
has the longshadow cast by Don's time at the club, so it
seems fitting; and 4) I got the book for my 40th
birthday, and this month I'm 43, so it's about time I
went ahead and read it!
Review by Bob 70-71
I remember that...'
Of all the books I've reviewed
so far this year, this has been the easiest and quickest
to read. Just 220 odd pages of well written footballing
history by an excellent and respected Leeds football
Maybe it lacked that bit of umph, especially the bulk of
the book covering Revie's time as Leeds manager, for
which I could almost have easily read a Mourant's
'Official Illustrated History of Leeds United'. It merely
linked Rothman's Yearbook results with a newspaper
headlines, and did little more for me than go 'oh, yes, I
The more interesting bits for me was the section covering
the uncertain years of first becoming Leeds' manager, and
then from the appointment of the England job onwards.
His appointment as Leeds United's player manager in 1961,
is fascinating reading for current Leeds fans like me as
Leeds are now going through a phase very much like the
one Revie encountered. As Mourant himself points out
Leeds fans now have a club with a benchmark of success
established by Revie, and the current disastrous results
at the wrong end of the second league seems unimaginable.
United was a footballing backwater
But when Revie took over Leeds
United was a footballing backwater, with no trophies to
their name, and only a few mediocre seasons in the top
division to shout about. The team were being heavily
beaten on a regular basis, and no-one really bated an
eyelid. Leeds United then created no expectations. Even
under Revie it took a while for things to get going, and
Kevin Blackwell's detractors should take note that Leeds
under Revie were very nearly relegated from Division Two
in 1962, before Revie got to grips with the job.
It has to be said that Mourant is a big Leeds fan dating
back to the Revie era, and even though he did not get the
Revie family's endorcement, in my opinion he does go easy
on Revie's darker dealings, whilst never attempting to
airbrush them out of the story.
The various claims of asking oppositions to 'go lightly'
noted by the Daily Mirror, are all covered, but there's
no new journalistic insights on offer, just the
reflection that nothing was proved. Given that 50
reporters were supposedly working on the story at one
point, it has to be said that the case against Revie is
much poorer than the paper would have us believe.
Witnesses against Revie were
all paid for their accusations, and some later retracted.
Bremner won £100,000 suing the Mirror for defamation for
his alleged role in asking Wolves players to back off in
the famous match in '72 when Leeds only needed a draw to
win the double and lost 2-0. Revie, though never took the
paper to court, so the debate will always be open for
discussion, and his level of guilt decided on how much
any protagonist hates Revie's Leeds United or not.
And boy were Leeds hated for there gamesmanship and
'hard' play. For all that, Revie did win back to back
'Manager of the Year' awards in 69, 70 , and then again
in 1972, which any way you look at it is hell of an
achievement. It wasn't until '72 that Leeds began to win
over the detractors with performances of sheer class.
This may have been due to the maturing and
self-confidence of the team, but may also have been
thanks to good public relations the style of which Revie
was a pioneer.
verged on nervous breakdown
The story of his England years
make the most uncomfortable reading. Mourant suggests
Revie verged on nervous breakdown, and began to be
decidedly un-Revie like in his determination to be liked,
choosing a new team every game and being overswayed by
the Press's idea of who and who should not be picked.
Once he escaped from the England job, Mourant's
description of the treatment by Sir Harold Thompson in
the FA seems almost childlike. Sir Harold set up what
could be described as a kangeroo court and banned Revie
from English football for 10 years, a decision later
turned over in the High Court.
Afterthis Revie became reviled by almost everyone outside
of Leeds, and though he admitted he should not have
escaped the England job in the way he did, he was clearly
by this time, a man on the edge. The reaction of Press
was appauling and players who have come out slating him
since, all had axes to grind based on being dropped
whilst wearing a Leeds United or England.
was never confident of his success...
Which is all a shame, here was
manager who created a club, took it to heights never seen
before or since, yet Revie was never confident of his
success. He relied completely on silly superstitions and
an over preparation for matches that seemed to have done
more harm than good as it gave the oppositions too much
respect (Colchester 3 Leeds United 2 in 1970-71 being a
classic case in point.).
Though Revie became berated for being a money grabber, he
died with only modest wealth, was under paid in his
career right up to his spell abroad, and these days would
be praised for looking after number one when no-one else
would. Given Revie's sad early death due to Motor Neuron
Disease - for which he became a campaigner to raise
awareness - it is sad that even now people are not more
forgiving of the great man's few character flaws.
I finished the book really regreting that more people
cannot see him for the hero he was.
Maybe the fact that the 'family' he kept around him - the
inner sanctum of preferred players, colleagues and
friends - created loyalty, also caused bitterness in
those who were outside it., or indeed kicked out of it.
Revie clearly made enemies in important places, not least
the Press, and people have a nasty habit of believeing
everything that's printed in the Press.
Leeds fans also felt part of this inner-sanctum, and
loved him, whilst other fans just loved to hate the Leeds
fans - which let's face it is arguably another of the
legacy of the Revie years!
'George Best and 21
Others' by Colin Shindler.
Chosen by Bob 70-71.
Reason for choice: recommended by the goup and
enjoyed author's prevoius book about the Summerbees.
Review by Bob 70-71
This is such a fabulous book, I'm very pleased it was
recommended to read. It covers the progress of the 22
players who played the Youth Cup final in 1964 between
Man U and Man City.
It seems that Colin Shindler carried a devotion for these
22 players in just the same way that I did for the 420
World of Soccer Star players from the 70-71 season. The
only difference is that following 22 players to the
bitter end is a damn site more achievable...
The book has to be essential reading not only to us fans
of 60s/70s football, but any youth wishing to start out
in a career in football. I know circumstances have
changed for the academy players of today, they are
wealthier and better looked after, but there is a ton of
universal truths addressed by this book - not least that
for all you are special whilst you are on the club books,
you become frighteningly less special once the club
dicards you, and the fact that only 2 of the players
bothered to make provisions for themselves when their
careers ended, and consequently they struggled with
I would say that for every Premiership academy player
there will be 400 players with lower League teams that
will still face the very difficulties these boys did.
Even those that did break through sound almost bitter
about how football treated them once their careers ended.
Promised testimonials did not materialise, past glories
were forgotten when the players were sent on their way;
at least two players have only been to only a solitary
match since retirement.
But mostly it is facinating to read about the Alf Wood
and Alan Ogley's of the football World. I've read so many
biographies of players who have made it on a World scale,
that it truly refreshing to get the story from the
perspective of those that made it at a lower level, and
those that didn't make it at all
One gripe I have is that Shindler uses George Best's name
to shamelessly sell his book, when in fact George is far
from the star. His name is not only in the title, his
picture adorns the cover and every chapter heading.
Whilst Shindler makes it clear that he considers Best a
footballing genius, I feel his Man City colours come
through too strongly when he bags on and on about how
Mike Doyle and Glyn Pardoe blame Best for ending Pardoe's
career. It isn't like Best is given a right of reply.
I'm sure the tackle was nasty and I'm sure Pardoe has
every right to feel agrieved, but if it had been a lesser
player who none of us remember, do you not think he would
just have forgotten about it and moved on by now instead
of tirelessly moaning about it? In fact every time
Shindler nails his Man City colours to the mast I feel he
lets himself down a bit, because it usually comes at the
expense of Man U - whom he also shameless used to sell
his last book. But I'm in danger of being over negaitve
here, for what is a wonderful
What I really like is the little insights like Willie
Anderson's sister giving birth the same time as his Man U
debut - and he family having to decide which they are
going to attend! Bobby McAlinden playing one game only to
be dropped and never play again, yet never given an
explaination as to why. The fact the players , once they
signed on, got a one pound bonus for every 1,000 over
10,000 in the
crowd. Harry Dowd (the established City goalie)
dislocating his shoulder, and as there was no subs,
playing the rest of the match strapped up as an outfield
player on the pitch.
Shindler writes about Pardoe, 'He was happy and he was
successful, the perfect combination for the gods of
football, who cannot resist the tempation to urinate in
the gardens of the blameless'. After his playing career,
as a youth team coach Pardoe had a youth FA Cup victory
himself, only to end up being sacked by City. It is an
excellent example of the insites this book offers on the
cruel game football can be.
I did think it funny that if I was to freeze time on one
of the nursing teams I have worked with and follow their
careers till now, just how boring that would be. But when
its football, it is simply fascinating and I was really
sad when the book finished. There is one last chapter
where Shindler basically bemoans that football isn't what
it used to be and groans on like a grumpy old man. Though
there is many of us who would say - 'he's got a point!'
That said, I personally thought what the book demonstates
more than anything is the improvement in the academy set
ups these days and surely Shindler is only highlighting
'the good old, bad old days'. How one can look at the
likes of Michael Owen, Wayne Rooney, Aaron Lennon, and
Theo Walcott and say that there is no genuine talent,
only manufactured talent? To me it just sounds like a
person too busy looking back to see what is front of
them, but I know there's plenty of visitors to this site
who would say 'b******s' to that so I'll shut up quickly.
'One Goal, One Horse' by
Ricky George (Barnet).
(2003, Pen Press Publishers Ltd)
Chosen by Bob 70-71.
Reason for choice: in tribute to hearing about
the death of Roger Griffiths the first player from the
Hereford United FA Cup giantkilling team to die
Review by Bob 70-71
It is quite possible that last month's choice of book is
less well known amongst even this elite bunch. I chose
it, you may remember, because one of the mainstays of the
Hereford Town FA Cup giant killing team, Roger Griffiths,
died last month, and this was by way of a tribute. It was
a great choice.
It was an enlightening read about a player who never
quite made it at the very highest level, though you
suspect that if he had a more Michael Owen-like approach
to the game, he could have been a much bigger star than
he ultimately became. It seems he found it difficult
convincing people that he was 100 per cent committed to
the game, and that his mind was always slightly
elsewhere. Which in
truth it probably was.
It makes quite a refreshing change to read about other
players around in the 60s and 70s, some of the
non-headline players. In fact at times Ricky seems as
impressed with meeting the top stars, as you or I would
be. I liked his anecdote that his wife once said to him,
'there's a man called Bobby Moore on the phone for you',
blissfully unaware as to who it was.
Ricky began at Spurs, but frustratingly failed to impress
Bill Nicholson and coaches, who's man management style
may these days be termed bullying. His contract was
cancelled, and he moved on to Watford, Bournemouth, and
Oxford United before he finally settled at Hastings
United where he finally avoided the end of season
clearout for the first time in his career..
Non-League success finally came, though when he returned
to his home town side of Barnet. At the beginning of the
70-71 season, Ricky was doing so well, he was bought for
Hereford by player-manager John Charles in the latter
stages of his career. There is a touching account of
John's management style and ultimate demise. Hereford
were ambitous to reach the League even then, and for all
Charles had done to improve the team it was not
There follows what for me is highlight of the book a
detailed account of the Hereford Town FA Cup run. As
Ricky admits himself, his late winner against Newcastle
United after Ronnie Radford's rocket had taken the scores
level, changed his life and the lives of his teammates
As I was reading the book I visited the FA Football
museum at Preston, and Ronnie's goal is available for
constant replay chosen with only a dozen or so others.
(Ricky's namesake, Charlie George's 70-71 Cup winner
being another!) The famous picture of Ricky and Ronnie
celebrating in changing rooms afterwards is on proud
display. For all Ricky contributed to football, I doubt
his image would have been in the museum but for this
moment in his life.
Even in his life defining game Ricky was a substitute,
which was a bit of the story of his playing career. He
moved on to Stevenage Athletic, and back to Barnet, which
is probaly where Ricky is best known outside of his
famous Hereford moment.
The other half of the book is of course about his life
outside of football. For football boot nerds has a rare
moment of football boot history that was quite
interesting. After his career Ricky got a job for Addidas
and he had the job of painting the white stripes on the
side of England players' boots prior to internationals. A
surprising fact is that Addidas got the deal for this
with Sir Alf in 1966. For the World Cup Final they only
had to pay the players 50 pounds each. What's more, Sir
Alf hadn't even realised any money was involved when he
agreed to the deal - it seems he just agreed to the idea
in a gentlemanly sort of way because someone asked.
There is also a book within the book in which Ricky
describes in tremendous detail his attempts (from his
point of view) to rescue the ailing Barnet football club,
when it threatened to go under in the 90's. His version
of events is that he was reluctantly thrown into the
frame motivated by an honest desire to rescue the club,
whilst more invidious forces were attempting to own the
club for financial led reasons yet making him out to be
I have to admit I have no opinion on the events, and as
I've only read Ricky's version, he gives a very
convincing insight to football politics. There is a
feeing of authenticity of his version that I recognise as
a larger version of what I see happening at even at
junior football levels, let alone League club levels.
It's all so petty, time consuming, overly emotive and
best avoided - which I think Ricky would agree with in
Well I doubt anyone is still reading this review now, but
the book does also cover his ownership of a Grand
National winner (the 'one horse' bit), which was all very
interesting when I read it, but largely forgotten by me
now as it is not my bag.
What I liked about the book the most was that this was
clearly Ricky's open diary of his life, and it reads just
like a real life, not the sanitised biographies the likes
of Beckham, Owen and Rooney trot out to make yet more
millions. It has very personal moments where he name
checks friends and throws in tricky life events that when
they happened at the time he thought 'when I write my
book I'll have to include this'.
Now he has I wonder how Ricky will come to terms with any
new negative challenges in his life!
Well I think I already know the
answer to that. Whatever happens to Ricky, he will always
come up smiling and smelling of roses, I'm sure, he seems
to be that sort of a person.
Team. In Search of Pele and the 1970 Brazilians" by
(1998, Pocket Books, London)
Chosen by Bob 70-71.
Reason for choice:: Well in the month where
there will be a new World Cup winner, I wanted to read a
book all about the difinitive World Cup winning team -
which just happened to be in 1970, of course...
Review by Bob70-71
In July I read Garry Jenkins',
"The Beautiful Team. In Search of Pele and the 1970
Brazilians", which I've had on the shelf to read for
about 4 years!
Written in 1998, it has become something of a standard
for 70s football literature, and only this week I saw it
for sale still in a
record store, in amongst various 'cool' books to read. So
it has certainly stood the test of time.
I enjoyed the interviews with players prepared to talk to
him, and it was a natural follow up read to "Back
Home" that I read last month. In fact it was almost
like a re-read in places, only from the Brazillian
perspective, which was fascinating.
There was a problem with the book's format, though,
because Jenkins interweaves the interviews with each
individual player, with a general historical account of
the 1970 competition from the qualifiers, through the
Finals, and on to the aftermath.
The historical account was excellent, highly informative,
and I'm guessing heavily relied upon by Jeff Dawson in
his book, but the
problem with this format, is that parts of the story are
re-told 12 times, once in the historical account and 11
times more as each
individual player gives his own account of it.
By the 8th time of reading about Felix's various cock-ups
I was beginning to feel a bit sorry for him, especially
as he comes across
in his interview as a realy nice bloke!
There is a bit of insight into Brazilian politics, which
shows why the World Cup has never been restaged there
prior to 2014 (and even then only maybe). Tostao regrets
not having made a stand against the regime which
exploited the victory to there own ends. A bit like
Harold Wilson in '66!
I hadn't realised till reading the book what a disaster
the '66 campaign was, and in this the seeds of the '70
victory lay. It seems that a lot of past it players that
were old in '62 were unexpectedly dug up, brushed down
and pushed out again, only to fail miserably. This
allowed the wholesale changes for the next World Cup, as
the Brazilian public pressured for this to never happen
Much was made of the players' inner sanctum called the
cobras consisting of Pele, Gerson, and Carlos Alberto,
who strongly influenced decisions about team selection.
It reminded me of Beckham, Owen and Neville... only
Jairzinho was given a hard time in the book for demanding
a fee from Jenkins, though as the book was presumably
written to make a profit, I couldn't help thinking he had
every right. He remained uninterviewed.
Brito was also missed but due to going on an unplanned
I might have missed a point, but I remember reading in
the book that Tostao demanded a fee, but he was
interviewed, so maybe this one was paid, or not, I'm not
sure. I do know that we like Tostao, but we don't like
Pele was minister of Sport at the time of the book and
his interview was fleetingly carried out on the way to a
helicopter flight, so by all accounts may just as well
have been left out, but here Jenkins objective account of
the history takes over, which one way the book's format
does work successfully.
Mainly though the book works because the team has become
And rightly so, but there is a myth that this was the
last of the great teams that were simply gifted players
playing their art and wanting no other reward.
This is simply not true. Tostao had huge money transfers
prior to his early retirement. Pele was the most famous
player in the World and had advertising deals to match.
Clodoaldo for all his humble beginnings was as much a
part of Santos as Pele, and in 1998 apparantly running
This wasn't the Corinthian Casuals. This was a super-team
where all the players happened to be in the right place
at the right time, and
actually fulfilled its true potential.
Unlike England '06 Brazil '70 were not all hype, they
truly were the undeniable Champions of the World, and
they went out there and proved it.
'Back Home. England and
the 1970 World Cup' by Jeff Dawson
(2001, Orion, London)
Chosen by Bob 70-71.
Reason for choice: It had to be a World Cup book
to read during the Germany 2006 World Cup Finals.
Naturally the 1970 World Cup is going to be of most
interest to me...
Review by Bob 70-71
Right well just hours before England's Quarter-Finals
World Cup exit, I managed to complete June's book of the
month. If ever England need reminding that we are a
footballing nation that consistantly fail to match our
potential then re-reading this book will jog the memory.
England turned up as World Champions, but with a squad
that was supposedly improved to that of '66's, and this
book certainly takes
that tack throughout.
Obviously I'm a Seventies football obsessive and loved
every page, but this book is fabuolous in its detail from
every aspect of the build up to the tournament itself and
the inevitable crashing out and wind down (to two of the
World Cup history's greatest ever matches, but who cares
we were out...)
The book covers Esso coins, pre-tournament preparations,
the Back Home single, Alfisms, and the matches
themselves in ball by ball detail. Fantastic. You can
really re-live the tournament as if you were there.
There is also the backdrop of news stories to add to the
context. The fact that there was an election going on,
more strikes than on Banksies' goal, and only three TV
channels to watch. For parts the book has the dryness of
a history book - if only World Cup history
was part of the curriculum at school! - but one written
through very St George cross specticles (well aren't all
Jeff Dawson does have a thing about Gerd Muller, did he
refuse him an autograph or something? Scorer of 14 World
Cup Finals goals, but noted more for his short, fat,
hairiness than ability to score with scarry frequency. He
got two hat-tricks in 1970, he must have had some
ability. That sort of bias is my only criticism of the
book, really, I would have preferred he kept the neutral
line, but a bit
of jingoism never does sales any harm, I suppose.
In my next email I'll set a quiz based entirely on facts
I picked up from the book. It is a treasure trove of
useless but fascinating information. If you haven't read
it yet and you can bare to read about yet another World
Cup final defeat for England then I strongly recommend
And here is that Quiz (Scroll down or Click for Answers)
1. Who were Tom and Stan?
2. What was the name of the aged professional England
football fan who wore a Union Jack waistcoast, top hat,
and red coat? (You'll all have seen pictures of him .)
3. Why did West Germany play in a green away strip?
4. Who was 'El Calvo Divino' ?
5. Which nation was described by Joe Mercer as 'The new
6. What did the Brazilians want to name the replacement
World Cup trophy, after the Jules Rimet was won outright?
7. Mexico '70 was played at altitude, what is the highest
ground in England? (I presume in 1970, if it makes a
8. How many people turned up to the last Scotland V
England match before England lost their World Champions
9. Leeds United were fined a the end of the 1969-70
season, what for and specifically why did they do this?
10. This World Cup was the first in which red and yellow
cards were used. How many people were shown the red card,
and name them...?
11. Why is it still called the World Cup when at the end
of the tournament they win a trophy, and not a cup?
12. Whose first live commentry match was Italy v
(Scroll down or Click for Answers)
'Ossie. King of Stamford
Bridge' by Peter Osgood with Martin King and Martin
(2002, Mainstream Publishing,
Chosen by Bob 70-71.
Reason for choice:
May is the FA Cup Final month
and Ossie is famous for having scored in every round of
the cup including the final in the 69-70 season, one of
only nine people to do so. He was also a part of the one
of the greatest FA Cup Final upsets in 76 when
Southampton beat Man U.
Also Ossie was a part of the first game I ever saw, so it
is a fitting first book.
Naturally the reason Ossie came to mind was due to his
recent sad death.
Review by Bob 70-71
Well I remain in a club of one,
but nevertheless, I finished Peter Osgood's biography
this morning. It chokes you up at the end when he says
that he was really enjoying life at present and jokes
that he did not want to die in his lifetime!
You could tell he was on the after-dinner circuit at the
time of writing the book because there are lots of
anecdotes with funny punchlines. The funniest being his
comments on Emlyn Hughes, which I won't reveal in case
anyone reads the book themselves in the future.
He mentions Stanley Matthews at the end of his career
saying that in his opinion he was playing mainly because
he was an institution in the very last years. Chopper
Harris, even as a young player with no reputation,
apparantly took great joy in taking him out.
I did not remember quite how often Peter got into the
papers for all the wrong reasons, mainly drink and women
related. Whether or not he beefed the stories up to sound
good on the after dinner circuits it
does seam he was forever punching people and getting into
drink related disaters, which all makes great reading,
but could not have been much fun to live through.
Every chapeter there's a belly laugh in it. Most
biographies funny situations are described so tediously
that the humour is lost in translation, but Peter does
his very well, with terriffic timing. I'm surprised it's
not been more of a seller. Maybe it should be relaunched
now that he has sadly died.
Of course the joy for me was reading all about the 70-71
season and the 1970 World Cup both of which had complete
chapters! What I hadn't remembered was that Peter was
'the third man' involved with the bracelet incident, so
he had more to say on the matter than most.
As a Leeds fan the main criticism of the book was that it
was written from such a biased Chelsea point of view,
almost as if the book was never going to have another
auidence. Maybe the ghost writers over influenced this
aspect being fans themselves. Or maybe they could have
nudged Peter towards the wider audience and kept him away
from diatribes about Chelsea the club as opposed to
Chelsea the 60s/70s team - which of course is fine.
I have to admit that there were times that as a Leeds fan
I had to hold my breath and count to ten at some of the
insults he gives Leeds players, but then equally some of
the fun of the book is the total lack of political
correctness. Having just read Michael Owen's biography
and seen how as a current player he has to be sooo
relentlessly nice to everyone, it is refreshing reading
Peter having a go at everyone and anyone who's upset him
in his life.
Back Home Quiz Answers:
1. "Tom" was Johannes Lohr, the West German
left winger who played in tandem with
"Stan" who was Reinhard Libuda. They were
so named due to their similar role on the pitch to
England internationals, Tom Finney and Stanley
But we still need Tom
2. Ken Bailey
3. Republic of Ireland played them straight after the
War and lent
them green shirts that they continued to wear in
4. 'The Divide Baldy' - Bobby Charlton
6. The Pele Cup
7. West Brom's Hawthorns
8. 137,438 (can you imagine that number of people
watching the match for a non-World Cup/Euro match
these days? Just goes to show how passionate we all
were for the Home Championships, even if there is NO
chance of the League clubs letting us revive it now).
9. Briefly, it was for fielding an understrength team
due to fixture congestion caused by squeezing all
their games in to finish the season early to
accommodate the World Cup.
The long answer...
For all they moan nowadays,
the current teams have nothing to worry about in
comparison to Leeds in 69-70. As the competitions
were ending early for the 1970 World Cup, and because
Leeds reached the latter stages of all competitions
they were in they had to play 4 games in 6 days, or 6
games in 10 days:
26 March 1-0 FA Cup S-F v Man U
28 March 1-3 League v Southampton
30 March 1-4 League v Derby
1 April 0-1 European Cup S-F v Celtic
2 April 2-2 League v West Ham
4 April 2-1 League v Burnley
The League then fined them for fielding a weakened
team! I cannot remember a recent case of a team being
made to play games in successive days, and to think
one was a European Cup semi-final. It'slittle wonder
Celtic won the two legged tie.
Incidentally that Burnley match was the one where
Eddie Gray scored two of the most sublime goals ever
seen in Leeds' history, if not League history.
10 Barry Davies
11. Well there were none, so there is no-one to name.
12. Because it just is, right?
Here's the 'Book
1) Only choose books available in paperback (due to
cost) and available to purchase from Amazon within 7
days (so we don't get too obscure).
2) Everyone who wants to will, over the fullness of
time, get to choose a book to read and give their
reasons for choosing it however meaningful or inane
the reason for the choice.
3) Very, very long books will be avoided as we only
have a month to read them, though finishing a book is
not necessary to make comments on the book.
4 Bob will moderate the list of chosen books based on
5) All books should be read with an open mind and
making comments based on not liking the club the book
is about / or a player famously played for that club,
will be met with universal derision by the rest of